Listen In

Ever wanted to participate in your City? If so, wonder what the interview process is like?

I applied to be a member of the
Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee

I recently applied for the newly rechartered Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee.

Care to eavesdrop? Would you like to listen in on my interview?
It hasn’t happened yet, but play along with me — it’ll go something like this…

[Setting: the interview takes place in the 2nd floor Fire Chief’s Conf room at old City Hall. As Frank enters, City Council members Ed Selich and Leslie Daigle are seated at the conference table. They’re chatting; Ed’s chucking about something. Frank notices the pile of applications; he is positive, confident and up-beat. Ed and Leslie have already interviewed 5 candidates; they would like to get this over with quickly.]

[Ed Selich, sounding tired of talking with these bike zealots, thinks he has found something more interesting to start with]: Frank, what’s this reference to Tech Coast Angels on your application?

[Frank, quickly, because he has only a few minutes to talk about bike issues]: It’sagroupofangelinvestorsthatscreenstartupbusinesses [breathe] forpossibleinvestment. It’spartoftheVentureCapitalindustry. IwasChairman.

[Leslie Daigle]: Frank, I remember your involvement in the Bike Safety Task Force in 2009. But then you didn’t even apply to be on the Committee last year. Why didn’t you apply then and why do you want to be on the Committee now?

[Frank, this is their last question before he turns the tables on them and starts asking the questions; he only has 5 minutes left – quickly again]: AtthattimeIhadabusybusinesstravelschedule. IwasafraidIwouldmisstoomanyofthemeetings. Iamaconsistentcontributortothediscussions.

[Frank: slowly, respectfully] Ed, you’ve heard of other cities like San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Long Beach, and now even Los Angeles, making huge strides in bicycle safety infrastructure, but do you know the key factor that makes these cities such great successes?

[Frank: use that late-night FM radio DJ voice] It’s simple, they all had commitment from the top. Yes, maybe a committed group of cycling advocates came up with the right list of suggestions, nagging them, too, but commitment from city leaders is what eventually makes things happen; makes a difference. Have you thought of ways to increase the commitment of the City Council? May I offer a suggestion? Let’s take the Council on a bike tour of Long Beach. It’s close at hand and if our Mayor comes along, so will theirs and you’d see for yourself just what innovations they have experimented with and you’d hear first hand how they addressed the concerns of all parties when it comes to bike lanes and car parking and the challenges that built-out cities, like Newport Beach face. You’d hear how they counter the natural reactions of resistance to change. Will you organize a Council tour of Long Beach?

[ES] I don’t know, Mike Henn doesn’t ride…

[LD] Frank, I’ve ridden all over Long Beach, so I know the infrastructure that they’ve built. I’m not sure what they have done will translate to Newport Beach. We’re different here.

[FP] Yes, they have a grid which makes it easy to designate one street a bike route; car traffic can take the next street over. But what they have done that we can copy is attitude. Long Beach calls the changes they’ve made ‘experiments’, so maybe for us that’s where we must begin, with a willingness to try some new approaches. Not everything that Long Beach has done is approved by the Federal Highway Administration, but did you know of this? [Pull out the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide] Eighteen cities have collaborated to write their own standards for improving bike infrastructure. While we wait for the Feds to catch up we can borrow from these pioneering cities.

[ES] I’m sure staff is aware of this…

[FP] May I change the subject? How will you decide who joins the Committee? May I offer a suggestion? Attendance for some of the previous members was less than 50%, meanwhile a handful of dedicated bike advocates sat in the audience each month. Probably the most knowledgeable cyclist in Newport is John Tzinberg at Bike Religion. On Newport Coast, David Huntsman, an attorney, is an avid cycling advocate; he and I attended the California Bike Summit in Los Angeles in November. Matt O’Toole on Lido has bi-coastal experience with advocacy, in Virginia and here in Newport Beach. Dan Murphy was on the Task Force with me. These cyclists are committed to safety improvements.

[ES] Leslie, did you get all those names? I think we have their applications right here. Frank, I’m sure they appreciate your vote of confidence, but I think the Committee should focus on organizing bike rides…

[FP, pulls out Randy Neufeld’s Power Moves] I know my time is almost up. Here, read this later. We don’t want the Committee wasting its time organizing rides.

[FP] Have you thought about what to do with the Old City Hall? I wrote a blog post: New Life for Old City Hall.

[ES] We’ll take a look at that, Frank. Lots of people have lots of ideas. Thanks for coming in. Good bye.

[FP, desperately] I have a Road Diet plan for Bayside Drive…

[ES] Leslie, would you invite the next candidate in?



1 Comment

  • Frank January 19, 2012 (2:54 pm)

    Some readers are too shy to post a comment, but I’m getting some interesting replies. I’ll place a few snippets here:

    Thx for the “Interview”, it is hilarious, sad, and true all at once. I think you would be the perfect comte member, committed to cycling, but yet I feel you have the ability to look at both sides of issues, (I am not sure about some of the other applicants) and you have a great sense of humor which is very important in local government today. Good luck


    “Good job. Very clever. Of course they will read this before your interview, so it will be interesting to see if they mention it. I can’t possibly see how you won’t be chosen. The year off was a huge positive because it allowed observation from the outside. Plus, you would have never started bNB without a break.”

    “I think your interview script anticipates the interview very well. Go get’em Frank!”

    I’ve sat on a coupl’a these “groups” or “commissions,” and you’re not far off. Aside from boredom you didn’t convey the hidden political motives of the interviews. I’d say over half the time they already know who they’ll select, the request for stakeholders is just a show. bikeNewportBeach and cdmCyclist can muster more voter passion than their committee can withstand.

    I love the comment, “Lots of people have lots of ideas.” How can you not say, ” Seriously dude – did you really say that? Think about what that really means.” Actually it means NOTHING – Less than ZERO. This is the stuff that does make me look for that piano wire… this guy ACTUALLY does this for a living and gets paid????

    See more comments at coronadelmartoday.